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Discussion Starter #1
What do you guy like and dislike about the stores you've been to. Don't say names, but just give me some ideas that would make a store worth shopping at. We are trying to give the reefers in the N. Ga. area a good store to shop at that will be around for a while.
So let hear every idea, likes, dislikes and concern you may have.
We have our ideas in place and now it's time to tweak them with yours.

Thanks
Swag
 

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Staff that knows what they are talking about, also clean tanks. i don't like buying things from an LFS that has a tank more dirty then i do.
 

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What I dislike most about the current lfs is their location... it is at least a 20 mile drive to the nearest one for me.

It would be great to see a quality reef store somewhere farther north up the 400 corridor than Alpharetta....
 

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Prices... :)

for example... Maxi Jet 900 online w/ shipping $25.00, if I add to that a couple of other products I want, like a medium mag float, the shipping charges go down per item.

here's an actually shopping cart for an online retailer...

Maxi Jet 900 - $18.99
Med. Mag Float - $8.99
Shipping - $7.45
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Total - $35.43


cost at an LFS...

Maxi Jet 900 - $39.99
Med. Mag Float - $20.00
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Total - $59.99 (w/out taxes)

Too often, I find that LFSes simply can't compete or want too much margin on their hardware... Online vendors have prices that are absurdly lower than what most LFSes offer on hardware in the atlanta area, but that may be something that is out of their control because of volume and overhead issues...
 

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Good selection of aquacultured / maricultured corals. Look at the premium stores around Altanta who carry a lot of these types of corals, and you'll see that they are also the favorite stores of reefers here - Cap Bay, and more recently Marine Fish and Aquarium Showcase. Fish Store & More is jumping in the mix, too. If you don't include the more exotic stuff, you'll have a hard time reaching a good bit of the crowd in ARC.
 

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Staffing. No matter how good your location and selection is, the thing that keeps people coming back at all levels is staffing.

Make sure you have knowledgable staff. However, while it's critical to have some gurus on hand, it's far, far more important to have a pleasant staff that's personable. Every question from "How do I mix salt?" on up should be treated in the same interested, friendly, informative manner. Even if it's just a customer on a fact-finding tour, that customer will return to purchase again and again if well treated.

I've been in far too many beautifully stocked stores over the years that I avoided buying from because I felt dodged or dismissed by the staff since I wasn't there to spend $500 or I wasn't a walking encyclopedia of scientific coral names and care.

Hell, I'll walk into a new store and ask a "stupid question" on purpose just to see how the staff reacts so when I have a stupid question that's all my own, I know if I'll be treated well at that store.
 

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Staff that doesn't try to talk down to you.

Healthy livestock. If a fish is sick (ich, velvet, popeye, etc) I will not buy any fish in the same tank. If it looks like all the tanks are manifolded together, I even hesitate purchasing fish from any of the tanks. LFS should have a separate tank system for quarantine of sick fish.

Stay open later. I work all week and would like to be able to go by after work and they are closed by the time I make it through traffic.

Individual labels for fish to see how long they have been at the LFS (similar to the way one of the ARC sponsors does).
 

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I would make sure to sell coral in a variety of sizes. Some people want to go in and buy a whole colony, while others like me who may have smaller tanks or limited funds are interested in the frags. I love the stores in our area that carry frags...gives me a reason to visit and check out the frag tanks for something new! I don't even visit the stores that carry only large pieces since I know I can't afford them.

I also agree with the customer service side. It doesn't matter if you have a weeks worth of experience in the hobby, or ten years, all customers should be treated equally....same as if they are buying $1000 in equipment or a few $2 hermit crabs.

Chad
 

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Discussion Starter #9
All good responces, thanks. As several here have stated...customer service, will be our main goal and stock second, not to say we won't have some of the best stuff we can get. Everyone has to remember that we are just a couple of guys that are tired of driving 30-60+ miles just to buy high grade salt or something else that should be down the road. And lets not forget getting treated like crap by the staff of these egomaniac, overpriced stores after driving an hour and a half. I know everyone has been to a store like that and no one should have to deal with that in our eye's. I think everyone will be surprised and pleased with the layout, prices and selection if everything goes as planned over the next month.

So keep the comments coming and we will do our best to make it one of the best.

Thanks everyone.
 

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sell high quality equipment at a reasonable price, most people don't mind spending a little more at a LFS if its the same equipment as available via mail order- avoid the we don't have that skimmer but this little beauty here is just as good (bait and switch kinda thing). If the buyer has done their research you are going to lose a customer if you try to sell inferior equipment at an inflated price trying to pass it off as equivalent equipment, this happens all the time in the world of electronics and I do see it frequently at LFS stores here in Jersey.
 

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Monkey Man
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I'd love to check out the store once opened... Keep us posted on it's progress!!!
 

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The Bitter Mod
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Staff is huge in my opinion. The attitudes of the employees at my closest lfs is so bad that I drive the extra 10 miles to CB or Marine fish now. Even if its just food or an additive.
 

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one thing that really keeps me going back to a lfs, if the staff is willing to turn down a sale in order to do the right thing, not selling corals that they know will die in your lights. not selling a small yellow tang to someone with a 20gal. thinks like that really make a big difference in my opinion, if i hear someone say " yes we carry that, but you would be better off going to home depot and getting ..blah blah." really makes me feel like they want to help me. not just make money. the better luck your customers have with this hobby, the more customers you will end up having. and if you send them to home depot for a part that will be 2 bucks instead of selling them a part for 50. they will still come back and spend that other 48 on others things, because you helped them.
 

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I agree 100% with what leveldrummer had to say. This stuff is expensive enough. Any help is greatly appreciated.
 

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I agree with alot of the above listed, PRICE, SERVICE and SELECTION. One thing I can't stand is having to waite around just to get help, then when you do get help they are clueless and then they cant find or dont have what you need (basic supplies). Owning a store is hard! With the lack of good employees (they dont even have to be knowledgeable) just hard workers with a good attitude and with the desire to learn and if they dont know dont lie and ask questions to get answers. Price is hard, as a LFS you dont buy in bulk thats big $$$ and overhead with live stock it depends on your suppliers. With good quality its worth it, because it only tanks a few more pennies to go first class! And thats my soap box.
 

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It's all about customer service and not taking advantage of someones lack of knowledge. I drive all the way from Greenville SC to shop at your stores. I hit CB and Marine Fish. I even go to Aquarium showcase since they have really gotten a grip on customer service. BUT I will no longer shop in Buckhead after the attitude I got one Saturday morning from the staff. 45 minutes in the store and I can tell you what everybody did the night before. Thats all they talked about. Not one person asked if they could help me.
Good luck in your venture and I look forward to visiting your store.
 

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there was a simi;ar thread several months ago that generated a good amount of info. may want to search for it for additional data.
 

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customer service is what it is all about. When you ask a staff member a question I am happy if they just attempt to find out the answer for me instead of just sittin and looking blank. It goes a long way
 

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something in gainesville would be great! There really is nothing in the area. You have to drive to mall of GA just to get salt (Petco) and I go even further for fish and corals. I am still very surprised that nothinghas opened in the mall of GA area other than petco. And I have yet to see anything north of that. While customer service is nice as is the quality of the fish and selection, location is key for most non-livestock purchases. If I have to drive an hour to get something I woud rather just order it online unless I have something else to do in that area.
 

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Here are a few things I'll suggest.

Keep show tanks to a minimum. While important to have to keep kids occupied and for eye candy it takes up valuable floor space.

Pristine tanks and healthy fish! This will get you more repeat business then anything.

Only high quality hardware. Don't carry Prism's and Backpak's, etc. Carry good stuff (Remora's, Euroreefs, ASMs, MRC, etc. etc.) Become a Tunze dealer and work some deals with Oceans Motions, MRC, etc.

Lots of SPS corals. There is only one store anywhere around that has "a lot" of them! When you set the system up don't skimp. Make sure they'll survive in the system.

Low prices! Have low overhead. Don't be in the swankiest shopping center and have hardwood floors, etc. Low cost is key so set your store up to maximize livestock space.

Customer service. Should be very attentive and courteous. I agree with the statement that you really only need like 2 "gurus" and the rest of the staff can be courteous and helpful. If a difficult question comes up point them to the guru! If they already know what they want the staff can handle it all!

Personally I would take up very little space with tanks or drygoods. You can order those things very easily for anyone so why waste the space!

And I agree there is a lack of any store up here. Around the Mall of Georgia would be perfect. I've thought about it more then once since moving here. Lots of people in a fairly affluent area = good location for a LFS
 
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